14 January, 2017

Resolutions

Jasmine, 2003-2017    [Click image to enlarge]

These aren't New Year's Resolutions, mind you. These are resolutions that just happen to have been made near the beginning of the year.*


I'm going to print more. Not just images that others want (or might want), but images that are mine and I want. Prints are "real" in a way that electronic images can never be. This resolution led me, of course, to the issue of print size. A4 is great for the desktop, or for a collection, or for what we might call "snaps;" but I think an archived image needs A3 (or A3+). I added the A3+ because Epson papers (such as Hot Press Natural) don't come in A3 — but if I'm going to be focusing on the Canson papers, that shouldn't be a problem.

I'm going to cull my images in Lightroom more carefully. I just opened a new Lightroom catalog, so it seemed like a good idea. I organise my Lightroom catalogs into calendar years and I noticed (not for the first time) the unnecessary size of past catalogs and their backups. So, why is it hard to throw images away? I think I'm afraid of admitting the low number of keepers amongst the dross.

I'm going to make more personal images; not to be confused with making my images more personal. This means getting off my... couch, and taking more pictures. Once you have the gear this is the least expensive stage of image making.

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*So, because these aren't "New Year's Resolutions," I can add or subtract as I see fit. That seems fair to me.

06 January, 2017

Epson Hot Press Natural - We hardly knew ya

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Yorktown Historical Park [Click image to enlarge]

I love Epson's Hot Press Natural. It's been my "go-to" matte paper for years. I know exactly how a particular image is going to print on a HPN. And that's a good thing because Lightroom's soft proofing of matte inks and papers isn't nearly as strong as it is for photo black ink on glossy.

HPN is one of Epson's "Signature Worthy" papers. So it's surprising (and disappointing) that Epson has let this paper go out of stock here in Australia — and not for days, but for weeks. And, this isn't the first time.

To add insult to injury, at this writing, Epson's "Legacy" Papers still aren't available here in Australia. We just don't seem to be on Epson's radar.

But, as the song goes, "If you can't be with the one you love...."

So, what now?

I'm going to try out two possible replacements: Canson's Infinity Rag Photographique (310gsm), and the popular Hahnemühle Photo RagThe Hahnemühle  has some limited optical brightening agents (OBAs), but its longevity stats are very good anyway. I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

I'll try each of these with the "canned" paper profiles for my Epson 3880. If I choose one of these two, then I'll get a custom profile.

Crane's Museo Portfolio Rag is reported to be a beautiful matte paper (and OBA free), but it's longevity estimates with the Epson K3 inks I use, aren't impressive. I'll try out the other two first.

Wish me luck.

02 January, 2017

RAW images are flat

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Santa Monica Beach [Click image to enlarge]

When I import my RAW files into Adobe Lightroom, Adobe has decided that any decisions about what my images should look like will be up to me — thanks, Adobe.

So, in order to leave the processing decisions to me, Adobe delivers the RAW images as raw as possible. This is particularly apparent by the absence of contrast or sharpening adjustments and without the white or black points having been set.

Lightroom's RAW images appear flat because RAW images ARE flat.

Some other image processing programs apply adjustments on your behalf on import. So those tweaked images look... well... less "raw." And that's fine it you want the program to make some of the initial decisions for you. 

So far, so good. What disappoints me, however, is that some software "reviewers" seem to presume that because auto-adjusted images look more like JPEGs than Lightroom's unadjusted ("flat") files, it's an indication of the inherent superiority of the auto-adjusting programs.

Nonsense.

Is this important for everyone? Clearly not.

Is this important for anyone? If we're unwilling to leave image quality on the table, then I believe that we need to understand what makes digital images tick and learn how our respective image processing programs address the range of digital elements.

Is control a lot of work? Absolutely, yes.